Momentum is growing for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines.
The Department of Veteran Affairs now says front-line health care workers need to get the shots within the next two months or they may be fired. New York City and the state of California are telling government workers to either get vaccinated or face weekly testing.
There's also a push from a unified voice of nearly 60 health care associations, saying the health care community should lead the way in requiring vaccines for all employees.
“And to get this pandemic behind us, we need to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and unfortunately it's come down to talking about mandates,” said Dr. Susan Bailey with the American Medical Association (AMA).
The AMA is one of the groups supporting vaccine mandates for health care workers.
It's not an uncommon requirement. Health care institutions require workers to be vaccinated against other diseases.
More than 96% of physicians are vaccinated, according to the AMA, but the numbers aren't nearly as high for other health care workers.
“I’m afraid they've been exposed to misinformation and disinformation, just like everyone else,” said Dr. Bailey.
“We thought it was important for us as a health care community to say it's mandatory for all of us to take the vaccine. There's overwhelming science to support its safety,” said Dr. George Abraham with the American College of Physicians.
Both health care organizations stress there is an ethical and moral responsibility for health care workers to be protected and protect others from infectious diseases.
The delta variant is causing cases to surge while vaccinations are going down.
“What we are seeing in hospitals is patients are younger, so the 20 to 39 age group, for example, and about 90% of those patients are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Abraham.
Dr. Abraham says many organizations were waiting for a unified voice on vaccines from the scientific community.
“The statement applies to health care workers for now. We're not seeing it is across the board for everyone in the public, but the message is clear that if we don't take a stance that no one else is going to follow,” said Dr. Abraham.